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An Oklahoma beef task force designed to analyze problems in marketing and processing beef has been organized by Representative Justin Humphrey (R), Lane and Senator David Bullard (R), Durant.
The two legislators have invited independent ranchers, meat buyers, meat processors, livestock auction owners and meat inspectors to convene and identify financial obstacles and structured solutions that will provide a process for long term financial gain for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.
Representative Humphrey stated, “Four major meat packers, Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS (Brazilian owned) and National Beef are controlling about 87 percent of beef processing and sales.
“They have considerable control over what ranchers are paid for cattle and what consumers pay for meat. The beef price is very low for ranchers and extremely high for consumers while meat packers are making millions of dollars. This is not acceptable.”
Oklahoma ranchers are feeling the financial squeeze as production costs continue to climb along with farm debt.
Chapter 12 bankruptcies are up 24 percent over last year. The beef supply chain has been challenged nationwide because of the closure of 75 percent of American feedlots and 48 packing plants.
The pandemic has also had a negative impact. Times are tough for American agriculture in all sectors.
Senator Bullard stated, “We are extremely pleased that practitioners in Oklahoma Agriculture have agreed to participate in the examination of problems in raising and selling cattle.
“We are also happy to learn that Senator Murdock (R) of Felt and Representative Ty Burns(R) of Pawnee have agreed to join the task force.” Ranchers agreeing to serve on the task force are Evan Rowland, Durant, Pamela Livingston, Seiling, Jim Robinson, Boswell, Brad Hutchinson, Canton, and Tim Bryant, Ardmore.
Meat processors Bill Johnston, Clarita and Steve Swigert, Durant represent the packing plant concerns. Willian Payne, St. Louis will explain the packing plant to consumer issues. Steve Combs, Chester is a federal meat inspector and will outline slaughter regulations.
Meat buyer Paul Cochran, Crowley, Texas will provide information and data relating to the packaging and marketing process. Stockyards owners Jerry Nine, Woodward and Jeff Hazaleus, Durant will outline spot buying process, cattle futures and pricing cattle.
Consultants to the task force are rancher Andy Chain Hutchinson, Canton, Lobbyist Rex Duncan, Pawnee, and rancher Gary Greene, Tishomingo. Brad Hutchinson, president of the Oklahoma Independent Stock growers Association, stated, “The future of our children, grandchildren and our western lifestyle are at risk.
“We appreciate Oklahoma legislators stepping up to help solve major problems which are impacting our economic well- being.”